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article imageBill introduced in Congress to make revenge porn a federal crime

By Arthur Weinreb     Jul 16, 2016 in Crime
Washington - A bill has been introduced in Congress making revenge porn a federal crime. Critics claim the bill is too broad and infringes on First Amendment rights to free speech.
The bill was introduced on Thursday by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). Rather than being based upon the concept of harassment or harm, the proposed legislation criminalizes conduct that breaches another person's right to privacy.
Known as the Internet Privacy Protection Act (IPPA), the bill makes it a federal crime to distribute pictures or videos of a person on the Internet that consist of nudity or are sexually explicit without the consent of the person in the video or picture. A person who posts such pictures or videos would be guilty under the Act if they do not have consent or have a reckless disregard as to whether consent was obtained.
An exception to the law would be where the publication of the images would have a bona fide public interest.
The National Law Review reports websites would also be held liable for posting these images without the consent of the person depicted in the pictures or videos. However, the law would not apply to websites and service providers who merely post content provided by another website or service provider.
Google has taken a neutral position of the proposed legislation while Twitter and Facebook are in favour of it.
Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia have revenge porn laws on the books but some of them have and are being challenged. A year ago, Arizona agreed to stop enforcing its revenge porn law because it was overbroad and criminalized such things as a woman breastfeeding.
In support of her bill, Speier issued a statement saying how easy it is to destroy someone's life with the click of a mouse or the touch of a button. She noted those who post revenge porn acknowledge there is nothing the victim can do about it and revenge porn can result in destroyed relationships, destroyed lives and sometimes suicides.
Critics point out the legislation can violate the First Amendment right to free speech. Lee Rowland, of the American Civil Liberties Union, pointed out revenge porn should require an element of revenge. She said the law should apply to someone who intends to cause harm to another person and does so maliciously, The ACLU attorney added it should not be a crime for someone "who shares nudity without first getting a permission slip."
The Washington Times notes the proposal had been thoroughly vetted by legal scholars before it was introduced.
Under the IPPA, penalties range from fines to up to five years in prison.
More about revenge porn, federal crime, First amendment, rep jackie speier, internet privacy protection act
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